MIAMI -- Rumors of immigration roundups have prompted thousands of illegal immigrants to stay home this week, and are making some afraid to participate in a national immigration protest planned for Monday.
Though federal immigration officials said the rumors were unfounded, whispers about random sweeps were rampant from coast to coast yesterday.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Dean Boyd said the agency has received hundreds of calls in recent days asking about raids.
He said such rumors were typical after a raid like the one last week in which more than 1,000 employees of wooden pallet manufacturer IFCO Systems North America were arrested nationwide.
But, he added, ''any suggestions that our standard, day-to-day law enforcement actions are timed or being staged to retaliate are absolutely false."
Immigration officials said that they have stepped up arrests under an existing program to find and deport fugitive illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds.